In honor of Tildes' 5th birthday, presenting a preview of this app I've been working on, called:
Three Cheers for Tildes
It's not ready for an alpha release yet, but have some proof it's not vaporware:
Pre-alpha app preview: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/dZ5cDZFrpUw
Q: What devices will be supported?
Android 6.0 and newer. iOS 12.4 and newer (includes iPhone 5s and iPad Air).
Q: Who is this app for?
Mainly for people who are a great fit for Tildes culture, but have found it hard to keep up, without an app.
Maybe they visited once or twice, liked what they saw, but quickly bounced off because they're more accustomed to apps than websites. They could simply have forgotten about Tildes, without that dedicated icon on their homescreen.
Maybe the lack of an app signaled to some that the site was not worth taking seriously yet.
Or maybe they had been active for a while, and over the years gradually got tired of waiting 5-10 seconds to cold-start a web browser on their phone.
I know Tildes regulars don't particularly need an app. Those who've stuck around have clearly been perfectly fine using the website for the past 5 years, after all. Tildes does have an excellent mobile site already! That said, I'd be thrilled if the regulars tried and ended up enjoying the app, but at the same time, I'm not planning to put in massive effort to change minds and habits that don't need to be changed.
Q: I'm new to Tildes. Is Tildes the Next Big Thing? Is it going to replace <mainstream social network>?
Almost certainly not, and that's more than okay! It was never designed or intended to compete head-to-head with any major social networks. Tildes is its own community with its own way of doing things. We could use some new users in 2023 to keep things fresh, in my opinion. But the goal has never been growth at the expense of quality. I believe most of us want to keep the cozy, and manageable, community feel.
Please read the Tildes Docs if you're interested in the philosophy and policies of the site.
Q: What does the app do differently than the mobile site?
Currently: It follows native UI design patterns. It comes with a homescreen icon. It loads faster than a full web browser engine.
Planned: Easier to submit stories by hitting Share from other apps. Notifications. Content and user filtering features.
Q: Will your app have ads?
No. As long as Tildes itself is ad-free, Three Cheers will remain ad-free.
Q: Will you monetize the app some other way?
I might ask for donations, with options to send money to myself or Tildes or both.
I didn't build this app as a moneymaker per se. It's been a fantastic way for me to brush up on new (to me) technologies, and I wanted to support the Tildes community at the same time. Also to be really honest, my competitive side was fired up being the first person to release a native mobile app for Tildes.
Q: Why is the app closed source?
I don't want to open this can of tildo-shaped worms, but know I have to;
<details>-ed for length:
- I am building the app on my own time, without outside assistance or funding. I'm proud of my work, and I make apps for a living, and am not in a position to give the code away for free.
- Client-side code has significantly fewer "natural protections" against copying, compared to open-source server applications, including Tildes itself. The server platform owns the user content which is protected by copyright, owns the domain name, user accounts, private messages, and so on. Client code, on the other hand, is all-or-nothing. If I gave away the code, that's everything—no "natural protections" against wholesale copying.
- From personal experience plus countless anecdotes from friends and fellow app and game developers, open sourcing a client-side app will guarantee dozens if not hundreds of clones. It would likely result in well-resourced Tildes competitors taking the code and using it for their own purposes, backfiring on my intended purpose of helping Tildes.
- The app does not incorporate Tildes' AGPL-licensed code, and is therefore not required to be open source. It interfaces with the output (HTML) of Tildes, just like a web browser does. See the GPL FAQ on the outputs of GPL'ed applications not being covered by GPL.
- My code is often ugly and I want to avoid the incessant questions along the lines of "why are you still using that old technology?" which are too common in app development.
On the other hand, if anybody is inspired to prove me wrong and build an open-source app, by all means, go for it! It would be exciting to see an ecosystem of apps maintained by different developers.
Q: Will you release an open-source SDK at least?
Maybe. I'd be up for collaborating on this. It would largely depend on whether the site admin is confident enough to tackle the increased spam and abuse that may result following a public SDK release.
Thanks for reading! I'll post another topic in ~tildes when an alpha version is ready.